Posted on March 20, 2013 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 26 of 36 in the series Zachary

Traumatic Brain Injury Headaches: Zach Part Twenty Six  

Understanding the roll that traumatic brain injury headaches play in Zach’s continuing challenges is complicated that he had a significant traumatic brain injury headache problem before he got hurt. It is significant to explore Zach’s pre-injury migraines.

To start with, it is important to compare the nature and severity of the traumatic brain injury headaches, to properly assess the role that the head injury is having in that symptom.

Also important in understanding the pre-morbid headaches is that there exists a significant risk factor for troublesome outcomes after even relatively mild brain injury, with a migraine history.

Further complicating the picture is that a history of teen age migraines, does not necessarily mean that headaches will be a major issue as an adult, especially for men. Migraines tend to cluster in those periods of maturity when there is a significant change in hormones –  teen years, pregnancy, pre-menopause.

What about traumatic brain injury headaches? 

Well, that is kind of a loaded question because I used to get severe headaches, migraines before my accident.  So allergies, anything gives me a headache, you know.  And now when I was at college the concentration would give me the worst headache and I had to go like decompress somewhere, like it was just, uh, uh –

When you say you had migraines, tell me about those, did you get treatment?


Tell me about a migraine that you had before.  Did you get an aura? 

It would get so bad that I would throw up.

Did you have any sort of indication it was coming before the headache really hit?

Well, yeah.  But, for the most part, migraines are tough to read.

Did you get any sort of strange visual or tingling or anything before it came on? 

No. I just know after I’d get a migraine, now I do have tingling sensation all over my body.

The pre-injury migraines were bad enough that you would throw up.

Yeah.  Yeah.

Were you light sensitive when you had them?  Had to be in a dark room?

Yes.   Yes.  Yes.  Definitely.

How long would they last?

Well usually they’d last as long as, until I went to sleep.

Did you miss school because of them?

No.  No.

Before your wreck, how many days of years did you typically miss?

Not a lot.  Not a lot at all.

You didn’t want to miss practice?          


What did you do in the winter?

I lifted and I used to play basketball but I was burning way too many calories.  Because I’d play the whole game so I’d run back and forth the entire game so I, I need that weight.

So your pre-injury migraines, and you never got medicine for them? 

I had medicine but not like I do now.

But before you didn’t have something that you would take when you got one to try to knock it out?

Yeah.  We tried stuff, like my mom gets them too so we would try prescriptions and stuff but none of them worked.

Did you try anything like Imitrex? 


I think they call them Triptans, it’s something that may actually bring symptom relief.


Did you ever try something like Depakote which you take every day to avoid getting them?


Traumatic brain injury headaches, that first few months after you injury, there’s a lot of things going on and the traumatic brain injury headaches may have just been one thing that didn’t get to be very important.   But when you get back to school did you suddenly start to feel like you were, these traumatic brain injury headaches were really getting in the way?

A little bit.

When did the traumatic brain injury headaches really become a problem?

Like do you mean in college?

No, at any point. 

Because I mean –

Many brain injury survivors will tell me, you know, I had headaches before I got hurt but I didn’t know what a headache was until after my brain injury.


Does that apply to you?

No.  Because I used to get them pretty bad before.

But, my first day of high school we had a scrimmage – that after a football scrimmage and I was going to rehab – I was just so excited to see everyone. All the excitement made me get a headache and it was just like my brain was like, it felt like it swelled up and it didn’t fit in my head.

Before you got hurt did your migraines come from excitement, from stress? 

No. Maybe, maybe, no, no.

You didn’t have the big game kind of headache, that most important at bat.

Nope. All my headaches were usually from allergies. There was not any other reason or anything.

So the headaches that you had that made you throw up before you got hurt were like, were related to allergies?

Yeah.  Yeah.


To view:  

Next in Part Twenty Seven –

Post Traumatic Headaches


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447